Philippe Coutinho shook the world when he announced his intention to leave Liverpool for La Liga club Barcelona. Now that he’s four months into his new club, how are things faring for him?
The football world was surprised when reports that Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is leaving for Barcelona surfaced. The Brazilian is considered as one of the best players in the world, with some putting him alongside Neymar, Pogba, and even Messi.
Nonetheless, the unthinkable happened, and at the turn of the new year, the 25-year-old joined Lionel Messi’s side with hopes of winning a title with Barca. Everyone’s hopes on him run high as he’s expected to excel in Camp Nou.
However, recent reports stated that the opposite is happening as his teammates are “disappointed” with his unimpressive start at Barcelona.
One of the dissatisfied players is Lionel Messi. Diario Gol, the leading sports news publication in Spain, reported that the Argentinian isn’t happy with Coutinho’s performance. The Brazilian is considered as an elite midfielder, and Coutinho not reaching their expectations is a big downturn on the hopeful Barcas.
Lionel Messi has miserably failed at the Champions League, having lost to underdog Roma 3-0. This denied them entry into the semi-finals, thereby putting his legacy at risk.
Nonetheless, Coutinho should have helped him along the way, that is, if he played at the European championships.
Unfortunately, he didn’t.
Who’s to blame? He’s rather unimpressive performances over the previous months.
Coutinho joined Barcelona during the January transfer window for a hefty fee of £142 million. Spending that much money on an underperforming player isn’t only a waste, but is also downright disappointing.
Coutinho isn’t in sync with the Barca roster as he’s had a series of errors in their recent La Liga games. Passes weren’t that accurate, striking attempts were sloppy, and game plans weren’t followed accordingly. It’s a mess, by all means, and Messi has seen that with his own very eyes.
Meanwhile, it was also reported that former teammate at Liverpool who’s now a Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, asked Messi to be patient with Coutinho. The report said that Suarez explained Coutinho’s situation to the Argentinian, and said that he is still adjusting to the new environment.
He also said that Coutinho is still adapting to the faster and more aggressive gameplay of the league — the reason why he’s off track.
The 25-year-old midfielder is considered as one of the best Premier League players before he left for Barcelona. And with an expensive transfer fee of £142 million, it’s likely that the ultra-high expectations set on him might have taken a toll on his performances.
No doubt that he’ll feel the pressure of having to meet the very high expectations imposed on him.
Coutinho’s two goals and three assists in his 11 game appearances for Barcelona aren’t enough for the fans, especially with the team. Everyone expects him to make a big impact for Barca, but with stats like these, it’s hard to say that he does contribute any impact at all.
He's supposed to be the club's go-to scorer, and he should have led the offensive line beyond the midfield. What instead happened was the opposite as Messi, Dembele, and Mina took that responsibility even though it should be Coutinho’s.
This resulted in a messed up offensive game, which made their defense vulnerable to the opponent’s through balls and tackles.
On the other hand, the team he left had been performing excellently after his departure. Though this doesn’t mean that he’s the thorn among the roses, it’s still pretty clear that he has issues in the field, and he might have brought that over to Camp Nou.
Unfortunately for Messi and crew, they didn’t know that Coutinho has such issues, thus leading to lost expectations. Liverpool dominated the Champions League as they’re down to the final matchup against Real Madrid on May 27.
It’s a slightly different story in the Premier League, though, as they rank fourth in the power rankings, deposing Chelsea.
If Coutinho wants to be accepted by the club and the fans, then he needs to work double-time on his weaknesses. He’s playing with some of the best players in the world. There’s Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, and Ousmane Dembele, to name a few.
There’s no reason why he can’t fit well in this star-studded crew knowing that they’re best known for their elaborate teamwork and top-of-the-line consistency.
With this, it’s safe to say that Coutinho is still having a feel for things. With a talented player like he is, it won’t that be hard to say that he’ll find his bearings soon. When that happens, then he’ll get the hearts of Messi and Valverde, and the fans too.
Back at Anfield
It’s been a long time since Philippe Coutinho stepped foot at Anfield. His days at Liverpool’s arena might be through, but this doesn’t mean he can’t run on it again. In fact, the former Reds is going back to Anfield for Brazil’s World Cup warm-up match against Croatia on June 3.
This will surely invigorate his fans, and would also cause his fans-turned-haters to bash him once the game day arrives.
It’ll be Coutinho’s first appearance in Liverpool since accepting a whopping £146 million transfer move to Barcelona last January. His former Liverpool teammates, Roberto Firmino and Dejan Lovren, are also expected to play for their respective countries, Brazil and Croatia. This will surely fuel the hype between the two title-contending countries.
Brazil is one of the countries that have a huge potential to win this year's World Cup title, according to Croatian Football Federation President Davor Suker. This comes as a surprise knowing that the Brazilian squad is going to be their opponent.
Nonetheless, Suker knows that beating Coutinho and crew is going to be a challenging task for them. He also said that he is proud that the CFF came to terms with Liverpool’s management in enabling the pre-World Cup matchup to happen at Anfield.
Suker added that they are looking forward to having the Croatian squad play at Anfield because of its historical significance in the sport. It is also Croatia’s first time to play in Liverpool’s stadium.
With this, it’s safe to say that Coutinho will feel nostalgic once he sets foot again at Anfield. Though this game will be for another team, this will still serve as a way for Coutinho to move on through his career, as playing back at the arena where he grew into a superstar plays a huge factor in his development as a more mature player.
Champions League winner's medal is imminent
Coutinho left Liverpool in a not-so-smooth manner due to numerous on and off field issues. His absence, though, haven’t stopped the Reds’ seemingly unstoppable campaign in the Champions League.
They might have fallen short in the Premier League after finishing at the fourth place and was defeated by the underdog Roma 3-0 in the quarter-final, but he’s still in peak condition. Probably because of his age and passion for more greatness?
In fact, the 25-year-old could win this year’s Champions League medal even if Barcelona is already out of the competition.
The Brazilian left Liverpool just last January, midway through the 2017-18 Premier League season. He made five goals for his five game appearances with the Reds early in the season. So, technically, he still made five goals on his record, and that will be counted for his overall record all-season long.
And though he was already a Barcelona player during their loss against Roma in the Champions League quarter-finals, based on UEFA rules, he is still ineligible to be a part of the official squad, should have they made it deep into the competition.
The rules also state that he will still be a part of Liverpool’s success if the Reds dominate the Champions League, which in this case, is highly likely knowing that the Reds are down to the final match against Real Madrid on May 27.
Also, Liverpool will receive 40 gold medals once they win the trophy, and Coutinho could be one of those players to receive a medal. It’s more like a token of appreciation because even if he’s not anymore playing for the Reds, he still had a huge contribution to Liverpool’s success this season.
However, it’s not an assurance that he will receive one because Jurgen Klopp still has the final say on the decision. Will he give Coutinho the chance? We won’t know. But one thing’s for sure, and that his relationship with his former midfielder isn’t looking great.
Based on Phil Thompson’s belief, it would be unfitting to award Coutinho a medal knowing that he’s no longer playing for the club. The former Liverpool defender-turned sports pundit added that he went from Liverpool to Barcelona without the thought of him playing in the Champions League.
That alone was enough evidence to prove that he doesn’t deserve the winner’s medal, that’s if, they can make it to the finals.
With all these being said, it’s easy to say that Coutinho is having a great time with Barca. Playing alongside the best footballer isn’t only an honor, but is a huge boost to his confidence. Lionel Messi knows this, and there’s no doubt that he’ll guide the Brazilian along the way.
To say the least, Coutinho’s decision to leave Liverpool was a good choice as the Reds is nowhere near Premier League title contention. Compare that to Barcelona who dominates the Spanish La Liga and Copa del Rey.
Yes, they might have fallen prey to underdogs Roma in the Champions League, which left space for his former club, Liverpool. But based on the looks of it, that was a freak occurrence. It was just a matter of underestimation.
Hopefully, Coutinho continues to do what he’s best at — long shots, direct free kicks, and layoffs.
Ernesto Valverde will surely adjust his gameplay to complement Coutinho’s, though. So with that, we can expect that everything will go smoothly.
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